These tragedies need to end. Hopefully the Philippines will do everything possible to stomp out terrorism. For us here in the U.S., stay armed; you never know when you will have to defend your life.
Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte visited a morgue early Saturday to pay respects to the 14 people killed hours earlier in an explosion at a crowded market in Davao City.
At least 71 people were injured in the attack on the popular market.
Duterte described the attack as an act of terrorism, and declared the nation in “a state of lawlessness,” the official Philippines News Agency reported, authorizing the police and military to search cars and frisk people at checkpoints.
He said he had not declared martial law, according to PNA.
“We have to confront the ugly head of terrorism,” Duterte said Friday, standing near the explosion site in his hometown. “We will take this as a police matter about terrorism.”
The cause of the explosion, which happened around 10 p.m. ET Friday, is not known. But presidential spokesman Martin Andanar said components of a suspected improvised explosive device were found at the scene, according to CNN affiliate ABS-CBN.
Bloody crackdown on drugs
No group has claimed responsibility, but Duterte said it’s possible the explosion “could be a reprisal” from extremists.
Philippine’s National Defense Secretary Delfin N. Lorenzana said he “assumes” the attack was carried out by the Islamist militant group Abu Sayyaf.
Duterte, the longtime mayor of Davao City, was elected President in May. He campaigned on a no-nonsense approach to crime and launched an intense — and deadly — crackdown on drug dealers.
The Philippine Daily Inquirer’s “Kill List” — regarded as one of the most accurate records of the killings of suspected drug dealers by police and vigilantes — has recorded 832 deaths since Duterte assumed office June 30. Police say at least 239 drug suspects were killed in the three weeks after Duterte’s inauguration.
The government’s heavy-handed tactics have drawn international criticism. Many public officials have been accused of being involved in the drug business.
And government troops have been battling Abu Sayyaf, which remains outside the country’s sputtering peace process.
The group aims to establish an independent Islamic state on the southern island of Mindanao, where Davao City is located.
Abu Sayyaf is a violent extremist group that split from established Philippines separatist movement Moro National Liberation Front in 1991. It was formed by Abdurajak Abubakar Janjalani, who trained in the Middle East and reportedly met with al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.